Playing Chess Using Eye Tracking Device

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There are events that happen in our lives that take us by complete surprise. Some of those events put us in a difficult spot, but with a little creativity, we can overcome those hurdles and carry on with our daily lives.

Ben Wyde, a competitive chess player from Seattle, believes he had a reaction to an antibiotic in late 2012 which now makes it difficult for him to type and sit or stand for more than a few minutes. For someone who likes to challenge his mind and have fun at the same time, playing chess was becoming a challenge due to health issues. That’s when he decided to become creative and find a solution that will let him continue to play chess without causing any hindrances.

He started with Dragon speech recognition on his computer and used voice commands to move pieces around on the board. However, very soon, he realized that using voice recognition was slow and tiring, and definitely not suitable for speed chess. He started exploring his options further and came up with a very innovative yet inexpensive solution. Also, instead of voice, he would use his eyes to play chess.

A combination of a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet, a surface stand, and an eye tracking device was what he decided to go with.

First of all, he started looking for eye tracking solutions that were not only inexpensive but also easy to use. He decided to get the Eye Tribe Tracker for $99 because it came with a straightforward and easy to setup and use software. The next decision he had to make was to decide what kind of computer to use with the eye tracker. If you read Ben’s article on his website, he explains all the factors he had to consider in order to decide on which computer to use, but the gist really is that the Eye Tribe tracker needs a USB 3.0 port, and at the time of his purchase, Surface Pro 3 was the best tablet that came with one (there were Android tablets too that came with a USB 3.0 port but the Eye Tribe tracker only works with Windows and Mac OS). Last, but not the least, he bought a tablet stand for less than $200 on which he would rest his Surface.

The setup – for now, he has the Eye Tribe tracker tied to the Surface with strings (but thinks that they should be velcroed for a more permanent solution), and the tablet rests on the tablet stand. And that’s it! He fires up his chess program whenever he wants to play, and uses his eyes + the Eye Tribe tracker to make movements on the chess board. Using his setup, he plays chess frequently on the Internet Chess Club (but also recommends chess.com). Because he is looking at the tablet screen all day, he also uses f.lux, a free application for Windows, Mac and Linux that reduces brightness on the screen and makes it easier on his eyes. Now that he is getting used to playing chess with his eye tracking device, he is looking forward to playing more games in the future.

Ben’s entire setup cost him less than $1,500.

Eye tracking can not only be used to play games but also to interact with on screen keyboards (Click2Speak), read books, and interact with the environment and web. It can be quite beneficial for people with ALS.

To read more about Ben and his setup, visit his website here.

Website: Ben Wyde

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